Psychiatrist: 'With Covid, the threat of hypochondria looms large. Nobody feels safe"
Can the continuous alarm linked to Covid lead to an increase in hypochondria? Massimo Di Giannantonio, president emeritus of the Italian Society of Psychiatry: ‘There is a danger of self-conditioning and perception of illness’
Covid and hypochondria, the psychiatrist’s opinion
“To say that Covid is transforming us into a society of sick people is certainly ‘excessive’, but the term hypochondriacs needs to be given a fair and appropriate place”.
Because the idea that “in the day, in the week, in the month, we can always come up against a health problem that affects us directly, personally and somatically, is something that is now constantly present in public opinion and in the daily experiences of a population divided into groups: early and late childhood, adolescence, adulthood, third and fourth age, but also in the male-female declination and beyond”.
This is how Massimo Di Giannantonio, president emeritus of the Italian Society of Psychiatry, explains the psychological impact that this fourth wave of infections with the Omicron variant, just a few weeks after reaching its peak, is having on the psychophysical health of Italians.
Emerging hypochondria? Covid is posing a gigantic problem of stress linked to the contagion and the disease
“We are all subjected to a continuous source of stress generated by the thought, the representation and the problematic nature of the health-disease relationship, the relationship with ourselves and with others, seen as potential involuntary vehicles of infection and disease.
Citizens, young and old, are now called upon to scan their bodies on a daily basis, and not only: how is my throat? Do I have a migraine? Do I smell or taste? What about my temperature? What if others are coughing or sneezing? Do they have Covid?
In this continuous scan, the danger of self-conditioning is not taken for granted, which ‘can become an element out of control when vulnerability, insecurity, the outcome of somatic traumas, even previous ones, make the human being excessively vulnerable to the perception of potential risk, even in the face of real situations where there is no risk’.